Create Communities That Extend a Hand
Can I just say what a relief it is to be sending my kids back to school for their second year instead of their first in a new town? The feeling of walking into a group where everyone knows each other and you know no one is so unsettling. Last year, my kids were aware of their socks, shoes, haircuts, backpacks…it all had to be perfect. This year none of those things seemed to matter very much—they are just excited to see their friends again.
It makes me think of our Walking with Purpose groups starting up soon in parishes and homes. It’s my prayer that every woman who walks through the door will be met with a genuine welcome and the strong sense that she matters. It’s not a small thing when we create communities where women feel safe to come and drop their guard—seeking to know God better in a non-judgmental, supportive, and positive environment. We walk a fine line at Walking with Purpose. One of the things that we value most is exploring our faith, our fears and our doubts in a fearlessly positive way.
There’s so much negativity in the world—it weighs us down and saps us of hope. At WWP, we want to delve into Scripture and into relationships with one another in a way that leaves us feeling strengthened and encouraged. Because of this, we leave the hot-button political issues at the door. Instead of focusing on things that divide us, we turn to Scripture, and focus on the content of our lessons. At the same time, we believe there is truth, and there is falsehood. There is right and there is wrong. We don’t shy away from uncomfortable truths, but we trust the Holy Spirit to be our teacher (and He certainly teaches us through the Bible) instead of us tossing truth grenades and telling one another how we are supposed to think and act.
‘It’s not a small thing when we create communities where women feel safe to come and drop their guard—seeking to know God better in a non-judgmental, supportive, and positive environment.’
There are many things in the news that I leave to the experts to discuss. But the past few weeks, my heart has been so deeply disturbed, that I’ve been asking God if now might be a time when my silence isn’t the right response. I read 2 Timothy 4:3, which tells us that a time will come when people will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. I don’t want to crush anyone with truth, but I don’t want to just tell people what they want to hear.
These videos that are in the Facebook news feed…these stories…these images… I have been stopped in my tracks as I’ve forced myself to watch things that I’d rather ignore. Perhaps you have watched the same videos. Perhaps for you it’s just been too, too painful to see.
After watching a video of a woman discussing what her clinic was doing after an abortion, I just wept. I didn’t only weep for the babies involved. I wept for the mothers who felt that they had no choice, that they had nowhere to turn, that they were without hope. I wept for the state of our world, for how alone so many of us feel.
Statistics make it clear that we are not talking about women far away—it is our sisters, our friends, our daughters, us. Many of them are far closer than we realize. I am deeply moved by Ann Voskamp’s words:
As many as 1 out of 3 American women have had an abortion- and not one carries this alone. We failed them. This is our failure as a community. The tender mourning of all this is that: Abortion is always a failure of community. Every abortion is a failure of humanity: failing a human being in crisis and a human being in utero.
It is my prayer that we can come alongside one another in a way that dispels the darkness. That our presence can chase away the lies that there is no choice, that we are alone, that trying to get out of the difficulty is a better choice than walking through it with God’s strength.
Our small groups at Walking with Purpose matter. When a woman comes to Walking with Purpose for the first time, we don’t know her background. We don’t know her past or her present. One thing we do know—she needs community. She needs love. She needs a safe place to grow spiritually.
May we create communities of grace—places where people can come as they are, and be greeted by a Savior who leads with love and mercy, and followers who reflect Him. May we stop expecting Christian behavior from people who don’t know Christ. We aren’t called to judge those outside the Church. We need to be concerned about what’s going on inside. And how we are responding to women in crisis is a big part of that. We’ve been called to do something extraordinary. We are asked to be Christ’s hands and feet in a world that desperately needs to see radical love.
Let’s turn towards one another in our circles at Walking with Purpose, strengthening, encouraging and supporting one another. And then let’s turn outward, and each take a step towards a woman who needs a hand, who needs to know she is not alone, who needs to know Christ in us.